In 2018, Leeds Building Society, which has 1,400 employees, received the Leaders in Diversity accreditation from the National Centre for Diversity, recognising its demonstration of a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion from senior leadership.
This commitment encompasses an organisational ambition to build an inclusive culture that enables employees with a diverse range of skills, experiences, backgrounds and opinions to flourish without barriers.
In 2019, the building society used September’s National Inclusion Week as a springboard from which to showcase the work it has done internally across three relevant employee forums: mental health, gender equality and black, Asian and minority ethnic (Bame) representation.
As well as updates on the activities and progress of the forums themselves, the internal campaign included a message from Leeds Building Society’s chief executive officer, Richard Fearon, which outlined the employer’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. Employees could also take part in interactive quizzes, and learn about the launch of a new e-learning programme about diversity and inclusion.
The organisation’s holistic approach to diversity and inclusion is not just about recruitment or progression practices, or about education and awareness, but aims to take an even deeper approach and help employees be openly and honestly themselves at work. To this end, it incorporates a focus on mental health, including the presence of 42 trained mental health first aiders.
Becky Hewitt, director of people at Leeds Building Society, says: “Being able to talk openly about some of these topics is an obvious indicator to colleagues about the culture we want to create. We’re aiming to make sure people feel they can come and talk to us about things that they are finding difficult, or that might impact them at work.
“We try to take a holistic view, and it is about creating the right culture of work. For that reason, we look at our wellbeing approach as one of the strong points of how we achieve a good, diverse culture here. We want people to bring their whole self to work, we recognise that everyone has lots of things going on at once, it’s not just about work.”